CAIRO – 2 July 2018: Minister of Manpower, Mohamed Saffan, said Sunday that the ministry has taken legal procedures against 74 institutions that violate Egypt’s child labour law from 2017 until the end of 2018’s first quarter.
Celebrating the launch of the national plan to combat child labor 2018/2025, Saffan said that his ministry has found that 12,700 institutions are not hiring children, while 74 institutions have been proven to be violators of the Egyptian child labour law, adding that other 4,248 institutions have been warned by the ministry.
A number of 18,885 children, including 12,536 male children, have been protected by the state from child labour law violators during the previously mentioned period, according to Saffan.
Numerous Egyptian parents help their children work for reasons that include poverty and incomplete education.
Saffan underscored Egypt's continuous efforts to take all possible measures to uproot child labour according to the national plan launched with the aim of eliminating child labour by 2025. He added that the plan will be annually reviewed to evaluate the annual accomplishments.
The education completion age in Egypt is 15 years old. The minimum age for hazardous work and military recruitment is 18 years old.
Eric Oechslin, acting director of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) office in Cairo, said during the celebration that the number of working children worldwide has decreased from 246 million in 2000 to 156 million today. However, 73 million children still work under risky circumstances.
“The term ‘child labor’ is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development,” according to ILO. It also refers to work that deprives children from schooling or leads them to leave school prematurely or to combine long hours of heavy work with education.
Minimum Age Convention No. 138 set the minimum age for admission to employment as the age of education completion. Child labor falls under three categories; the first category is the “unconditional worst forms of child labor, which are internationally defined as slavery, trafficking, debt bondage and other forms of forced labor, forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict, prostitution and pornography, and illicit activities.”
The second category is the work of children below the legal age determined by states’ laws that should be aligned with accepted international standards. The third category is “hazardous work”, which compromises the physical, mental, and moral well-being of the child because of its nature or because of the work environment.
There were 1.6 million children working in Egypt, according to a survey conducted by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) and the ILO in 2010.
In 2014, the World Food Program and the European Union reported that the number of employed minors in Egypt jumped to at least 2.7 million, according to Cairo Post.
Secretary General of the Egyptian Coalition of Children’s Rights Hani Helal explained that the increase is due to government neglect under political and security deterioration that followed the January 25 Revolution, as Cairo Post reported.
According to UNICEF Egypt, 5.6 percent of these children work under hazardous conditions.
Additional reporting by Noha al-Tawil